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Priests who have made a difference

September 8, 2006

I’ve been meaning to do this for some time.:A small tribute to three priests who have made a significant difference in my life and faith. These are men of God, men of the Church. They are examples of what the diocesan priest ought to be: a cleric who teaches, preaches, manages and inspires.

If you like, please share with us a few words about priests who have made a difference in your life.

Fr. Lawrence McGovern
Pastor, Church of the Presentation of Our Lady
Diocese of Stockton

When I had my conversion back to Catholicism in the summer of 1998, I went straight to Fr. McGovern, who was pastor of my parish in Manteca, CA at the time. Fr. McGovern would sit patiently with me for hours, answering any question or objection I had about the faith. We discussed theology, the Bible, pastoral trends in the Church and priesthood. Without him, I would never have been able to confidently place my trust in Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. He is an incredible preacher who captivates and moves his congregation, yet Fr. McGovern also conveys a sense of awe before the presence of God, particularly before the Eucharist. A great priest–pastoral and knowledgeable.

Fr. Joseph Illo
Pastor, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
Diocese of Stockton

Fr. Joseph Illo is pastor of one the most vibrant churches in the Diocese of Stockton, California. He keeps Bibles in every pew, he focuses unflinchingly on the youth, and he compromises no part of Catholic doctrine. Fr. Illo led a large group, of which I was part, to Rome for the 2000 World Youth Day. I saw this man tirelessly guide a group of over 200 through the streets of Rome and Assisi, for miles carrying on his back his clothes, Sacramentary, Lectionary and implements of the Mass. Yet he never refused to provide indvidual spiritual counsel or the Sacrament of Penance. Fr. Illo is a priest who inspires the young through his great love for the priesthood and ministry. Ministry, in all its modes, is never an incovenience to him.

Fr. Tony Thurston
Associate Pastor, St. Paul Catholic Church
Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Fr. Tony Thurston was the chaplain for my men’s household at Steubenville, The Knights of the Holy Queen. In addition to parish duties, Fr. Tony served as our advisor, spiritual director and friend. Fr. Tony has a way of seeing into the heart and counseling young men in the most difficult of situations. His spirituality is Christ-centered, while the Blessed Mother remains dear to his soul. Fr. Tony ignited in me a Marian devotion that I never had fully embraced. He also helped me to find God, not just in a book or in a church, but in nature.

I thank you, men of God, priests of Christ.


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